Hop on over to the Joy Gift Shop

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 22, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

The Easter Bunny is readily found at the Joy Gift Shop, a cheery little haven of peace inside Liberty Springs Christian Church. Not only is that cuddly little fellow waiting to be taken to a loving home, but also there are plenty of other goodies available.

The Joy Gift Shop was established by two sisters well versed in knowing how to find that perfect gift for just about anyone. Ethel Nichols and Irene Smith organized the shop, and business is keeping them (what else?) hopping. They said they chose the name because of their great joy in serving the Lord.

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Nichols and Smith are blessed with plenty of expertise in retail sales; they ran their own shop in Downtown Suffolk. Smith said, tongue-in-cheek, that her sister twisted her arm to convince her to join her in the shop that was located inside the Washington Street mini-mall.

&uot;I was living in Suffolk and working in Norfolk,&uot; said Smith. &uot;I ran the color clinic for McIntosh Studios for many years. I did all the color correction for them.&uot;

Nichols also had her own business. For many years, she operated a shop on Granby Street in Norfolk.

&uot;I brought my business to Suffolk because I was tired of driving back and forth to Norfolk,&uot; she said. &uot;I was in the mini-mall for four years, and then moved out to a storefront for only two weeks before a fire took the Washington Street shop.&uot;

In any case, the ladies are now in the business of bringing happiness to those who shop with them. Thanks to the congregation – a multi-talented lot to be sure – they are providing some of the most unique items in the area.

&uot;What is it they say,&uot; puzzled Nichols. &uot;One man’s junk is another man’s treasure… I think that’s how it goes. Anyway, our membership finds they have some truly nice, pretty items to bring to the shop and they donate them for the good of the church. It’s truly a wonderful, giving and sharing arrangement that brings blessing to the members and it replenishes the church funds.&uot;

One of the people who contributes is Patsy Crutcher. She creates baskets made to order for the shoppers, and is pleased they are sometimes mistaken for a particular brand of basket in vogue. Modestly, she admitted she truly takes joy in the fact that people seem to find them beautiful.

Along with the baskets, there are photo frames, storage items galore, and too many items to number filling the shelves and tables.

Each of the freshly baked breads and deserts is made with the same attention given to the store. As soon as the Sunday morning service ends, members of the congregation make a beeline to find a few items that are destined to become part of their Sunday dinner.

Nestled among the baked goods are also jams, jellies, pickles, peppers, chow-chow, and all manner of other goodies packed into sparkling Mason jars adorned with gingham and ribbon.

Of course, no self-respecting Easter Bunny would be found without his image to show off for the holidays. At the shop, there are many items decked out with images of old Peter Cottontail and other bunnies. There are also some softly colored baskets filled with little sweets.

&uot;We have just about everything you can imagine for our customers,&uot; said Nichols. &uot;They can go to church, then come by the Joy Gift Shop to shop, and then just go on home to sit down to a meal with our baked goods and sweets. It’s a wonderful way to share each other’s talents and the delicious items we make and at the same time, help the church’s operation fund.&uot;

The public is also invited to visit and shop from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the first Wednesday of each month. The shop is also open from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sundays. You can also visit the shop Monday through Friday by calling for an appointment.

Liberty Spring Christian Church is located at 4213 Whaleyville Blvd. in the southern end of Suffolk. For more information about the Joy Gift Shop, or services at Liberty Spring, call 986-4403.